Peter Freska has the uncommon opinion that the U.S. healthcare system is the best in the world — but he knows it’s not perfect.
“When I was in graduate school, we had to write a lot of papers on what the best healthcare system would be, in comparison to other health systems around the world,” he says. “And you look at Canada or the National Health Service in the U.K., and there is a lot of good in those things. But I still think the U.S. has the best healthcare system. It’s just that there are too many complications along the path of delivering care.”
Freska has dedicated his career to solving those complications and helping people access the care they need, when they need it. The benefit adviser, who serves as a partner at Acrisure — which has grown in revenue from $38 million to $4.5 billion over the last 10 years — has spent roughly two decades in this space. His work today prioritizes self-insured small and mid-size clients with fewer than 500 employees, helping these organizations access the same quality healthcare as enterprise organizations.
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“Why should the local manufacturing company with 300 employees not be on the same playing field as a Fortune 500?” Freska asks. “We’ve been looking for options that can provide small and medium-size employers the same benefits that your Boeings and Microsofts and Walmarts have.”
Captive self-funding has been key to making this hope a reality, Freska says, and allows these smaller organizations to access better options while sharing and minimizing risk. He’s also focused on compressing the value chain of healthcare, removing several layers of friction to give employers and their employees more direct and affordable access to care.
Specifically, Freska and his team at Acrisure have been working to break down barriers between employees and primary care, aiming to remove financial barriers to entry and get large portions of the population more engaged with (and aware of) their own health. Prioritizing primary care that comes with a $0 copay, he says, has proven impact — in the near and long-term.
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“If you take that copay from $30 to $0 for primary care, actuarially, the impact on the plan is to the benefit of the employer over time,” Freska says. “It reduces the cost of care because you’re having people go to the doctor sooner, and learning if they need to see a dermatologist or a cardiologist. In contrast, if someone’s on a high deductible health plan, Johnny Lunchbox is going to think twice about going to the doctor — even if his employer is funding $1,500 a year — because that copay is coming out of his pocket.”
Managing that kind of strategy (and convincing employers to absorb that standard copay cost) requires a close partnership with clients, which Peter says shifts the adviser/employer relationship from a tactical one to something much more valuable.
“We’re not just here when people can’t find their ID card or a claim isn’t getting approved,” he says. “It’s about where an organization wants their employees’ health to be in three, five, six, or even 10 years. It’s about much more than renewals. It’s about helping employers and their employees win — and we win too, as their partner.”